Professor Wayne Szalinski is the main protagonist of the entire Honey, I Shrunk the Kids franchise: the three films and the TV series. He is a struggling inventor, known for his shrinking machine (which at first just explodes things), and he always intends to get it to work. He is married to a woman named Diane Szalinski and has three children (two in the first film): Amy Szalinski, Nick Szalinski, and (since the second) Adam Szalinski, and a dog named Quark. He is played in all three films by Rick Moranis and by Peter Scolari in the TV series.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Wayne is an inventor who is struggling to get his shrinking machine to work. He tests it out on an apple, but rather than shrinking it, the machine blows it up instead. While it's an interesting way of making applesauce, it causes Wayne great frustration, as he has a conference at the lab later that afternoon and must be able to demonstrate that the machine actually works.
At the conference, Wayne is laughed at by the audience when he can't prove that the machine works. When he gets home, he finds his two children, Amy Szalinski and Nick Szalinski, missing. When he goes up into the attic, he finds some of the furniture (including his beloved "thinking couch") missing as well. He also notices that the window is broken. He takes his frustration out on the machine, destroying it, and sweeping up the debris into the trash.
Unbeknownst to Wayne, however, the machine actually works. It had shrunk Amy and Nick, as well as Russ Jr. and Ron Thompson, the two boys next door, and he had accidentally swept them up and thrown them out with the trash. He spends the rest of the day desperately looking for them.
Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
Wayne and his family, after the incident involving his kids, move to Nevada. Amy heads off to college and Wayne is raising his third child, Adam Szalinski. Being the only one to constantly improve Adam's playpen so he doesn't get out, Wayne is also responsible for a project to duplicate his shrinking machine and enlarging matter. After constant failure, he continues working on the project alongside Dr. Charles Hendrickson. Afterwards, Wayne, Nick, and Adam go to the lab to run some tests and Wayne decides to use Adam's favorite toy, Big Bunny, as a test subject.
During testing, Adam ends up in the line of fire and like Big Bunny, he is hit with the same electrical energy. Upon returning home, Wayne decides to fix him some lunch and while he leaves to talk with Nick, Adam is exposed to the microwave's energy and grows. When shocked to see his unnatural size, Wayne decides to return to the lab and reverse the process. Before doing so, they discover Dr. Hendrickson is there and he relieves Wayne off the project. Eventually returning home, Wayne finds that Diane is home, who has discovered overgrown Big Bunny, and so he decides to tell her the truth.
When confronting Diane Szalinski, Adam comes into the house and causes her to faint at the sight of his unnatural size. She almost kills Wayne because of what happened and after trying to get Adam to stop his playful rampage around the house, manages to fix a huge playpen for him. Wayne continues to seek a solution for Adam's condition and realizes the only solution is his prototype shrinking machine. Leaving Nick to watch over Adam, he and Diane head to the Sterling Labs Warehouse to find it. Succeeding in doing so, he assembles it while on the way and successfully tests it on a couple of police officers.
Upon confronting Dr. Hendrickson and Clifford Sterling, the CEO of Sterling Labs, who fires the former and assists Wayne in helping to getting Adam back to normal size. While going after him, Wayne, Diane, Sterling and Marshall Brooks all get ahead of him before he heads to Las Vegas. Wayne's first plan consists of Big Bunny which ends in failure after he says the word "nap", which is a word Adam hates the most. Adam then heads for the city with Nick and Mandy in his overalls' pocket and grows at an alarming rate. After crossing an ice cream truck, Wayne realizes that Adam loves ice cream and so Marshal' Brooks drives it in order to get Adam away from the city.
Wayne's plan seemed to have worked, however Adam grabs the ice cream bar right off the top of the truck and takes a bite right out off it. Diane then brings up an idea that she should make herself larger and despite his protest, she insists on it. Reluctantly he makes her big in order for her to get Adam to stay still and succeeds in returning them back to normal size. The next problem is to find where Nick and Mandy are due to the fact that when Adam was returned to normal size, they were still in his pocket and therefore were shrunk. After finding them, Wayne decides to leave them alone for a bit while consulting Diane about Big Bunny.
Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves
Wayne and his brother, Gordon Szalinski, are working on a science fair and as they come home, they use the shrinking machine to shrink a Tiki Man statue, but as it recharges, it accidentally forces a red pool ball to press the button and shrink them too.
Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, the late Rodney Dangerfield, the late Robin Williams, Dan Aykroyd, and the late John Candy were all considered for the role of Wayne Szalinski before Rick Moranis was cast.